Hot off the heels of talking about the importance of strength training, I wanted to write on the changes my body has taken over the past 14 months.
By nature, I have a slight frame: I am an ectomorph. This means that I am a hard gainer and am naturally long and lean. This is a great thing for modelling, but for being a badass in life, on a bike, or in the mountains, I did not have a lot of muscle strength to lean on. My endurance was excellent, but asking me to do a push-up was pretty much pointless. So, I decided I wanted to make some big changes. This decision also came at the same time when I found out my Osteoporosis diagnosis. My spine and hips were incredibly weak, and I was told I shouldn’t run, climb or do anything that could cause me to fall and break my back. I needed to gain muscle in order to compensate for the weakness in my spine and hips. I started identifying lifting weights with building up protective strength. I didn’t want to have to live my life in a bubble or give up on the things that I loved to do.
My strength program started slowly as the gym intimidated me. I didn’t enjoy lifting because I felt like I looked like a gangly fawn with her knees knocking…so I did a ton of research and asked some friends in the industry for some basic exercise ideas. After a few months of training on my own, I decided to get a trainer to help me with my form. I can’t recommend or stress this enough: it is SO important, especially with chronic illness or injuries, to have a professional help build you a program and make sure your form is excellent. We worked together to put together a long term plan that would help me reach my goals. It was at this point that I also changed jobs. I left Aritzia and took some time off to realign on my life and where I was going.
SoulCycle had conveniently opened up and I was building a new community of friends. I gained a best friend in Daniela and she inspired me so much to keep building strength. When you surround yourself with positive, strong friends, anything seems possible because you know they are right behind you, willing to back you up when you need it most. And so my training started to pick up intensity as I found so much joy in it. My body composition started to shift as I was putting weight on. Mostly it was muscle, but some fat, which was a good thing for my body. My skin got better and I was sleeping better. My hips got bigger, my thighs got bigger, my waist got bigger…all things that would have stressed out a “retired” model. Yes there were days where I did not feel comfortable and questioned how tight my jeans felt, but I consciously told myself that strength was the best gift I could give my body. I reminded myself that I was adding years and vitality to my life with every rep I nailed and pound I put on. I also reminded myself that I was becoming a powerhouse on the bike in class…suddenly I was competing with myself for how many turns of resistance I could put on and push through it. That feeling of strength was addicting.
After the summer, I joined the team at RYU. Talk about surrounding yourself with inspiring people…I was now in a company that celebrated and encouraged strength. Ever since joining the team at RYU, I have an increased well of inspiration. Instead of creating a ceiling for my strength based on numbers, or measurements, or a pant size, I have smashed that ceiling so I have no where to grow but upwards. I feel so blessed to work for two companies that encourage a healthy, fit, strong lifestyle. I have loved my fitness and strength journey. It hasn’t been easy and has required a lot of discipline and dedication. While I may need new jeans, I don’t need a new spine. I may not be able to fit into my little black dress of modeling days, but I can push through 20+ turns of resistance on the bike. Most importantly, I am strong enough to lift up others around me, and carry my friends and family when they need the support.